My current project is one in a series based on illuminated signs of the zodiac from the York Psalter, sometimes known as the Hunterian Psalter due to its inclusion in the bequest to the Glasgow University Library by William Hunter in the early 19th Century. The psalter itself was written and illustrated in the 12th Century in roughly 1170.
I picked these pieces to adapt and interpret because they are relatively easy to produce in a 10 inch square format, which is much easier for me to work with currently than something needing my huge floor-standing embroidery frame. The physical needs of my recovering ankle mean that positioning at the floor frame is still somewhat problematic.
I initially picked appliqué with surface embroidery embellishment but felt, after completing Capricorn, that this could be improved upon. I tweaked the techniques employed for Aquarius and was much happier. Pisces again was adapted and executed as a mix of appliqué and embroidery, with the consistent circle of goldwork in synthetic leather and gilt threads with bugle beads that all the pieces share. I decided to do something very slightly different, however, for Aries.
The shape of the ram was just not one that would skip happily around the pasture hand in hand with appliqué, so, having applied a suitable background, I set out to work the whole animal and his decorative surrounds in silk split stitch.
I’m almost finished now, with only the goldwork to go. Here’s a teaser with a photograph taken when most of the silk embroidery had been completed, with the exception of a few details and the hooves.